Simple But Helpful Online Blackjack Tips

Blackjack TipsBlackjack is one of the simplest and most popular types of online casino games out there. Even though there are a few different variations of the game, the basics are more or less the same.

There are a lot of different strategies used by players, but everybody has their own style of playing. Whether you’re a newcomer to online blackjack or a seasoned pro, there are some tips that might help you out.

  • Learn the rules of all the online blackjack games you’re going to play. You should then practice and play for free before you’re comfortable with the idea of playing for real money.
  • You should come up with a playing limit or budget and make sure you stick with it. You’re going to have good days and bad days so know when to call it a day.
  • Check out all of the online tournaments, promotions, and bonuses that are offered at various online casinos. This will help you get the most out of your money.
  • It’s important that you don’t give out any of your personal account information to anybody that you don’t know and trust.
  • Try to learn all of the terms related to the online blackjack games so you understand what’s happening during the action.
  • Withdraw at least half of your winnings after you win a big amount. This will help stop you from playing it right away and you’ll leave the game with some winnings.
  • Try to get your cards as close to 21 as possible instead of trying to beat the dealer. If the dealer has a high card showing don’t let it distract you.
  • Don’t forget about betting cycles in online blackjack. You should bet more when you’re winning and less when you’re losing.
  • Remember, online blackjack favours the dealer. If you both go over 21, you lose.
  • If the dealer has to take a card on hands that are 16 and lower, you won’t win with less than 17 unless the dealer goes over 21.
  • Remember that an ace can be used as either one point or 11 points.
  • If your cards total 10 or lower you should take another card as you won’t be in jeopardy of busting. The most you can get is an ace to total 21, which of course is what you’re aiming to do.

Written by Alex, a blackjack aficionado who enjoys blogging about her casino experiences. She loves detailing her wins and losses for the amusement and entertainment of others!

A Simple Card Counting System

Let’s start with a very simple system. After you have mastered basic strategy play, this system should only take a couple of dozen hours play to learn but it will dramatically increase your results. This system will involve a simple count, a running count, bet progressions and a few minor adjustments to play.
First the count. Our count will keep track of 10’s and A’s on one hand and 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, and 6’s on the other. Start by keeping a running count of your advantage or disadvantage. In the interest of simplicity we will start with a single deck. A deck of cards has 4 A’s and 16 10’s ( 4 each of 10, J, Q, and K) for a total of 20 cards that benefit the player. The deck also contains 20 cards that are advantageous to the dealer ( 4 each of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6). As noted earlier, 5’s and 6’s are “better” for the dealer than 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s but this is a simple count. Much more sophisticated counts exists and the reader is encouraged to master this one first and then begin to look at more complex systems.

So, we know we start with a running count of zero. Twenty cards for the player, twenty for the dealer – no advantage – zero. As play begins, you will add 1 to your “count” for every 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 that is dealt. For each 10 or A, subtract one. The idea is simple. If a 5 is dealt, the deck now contains 20 “10s” and 19 of the “other” cards. More tens is to your advantage so you add one. If a 10 (or J, Q, K, or A) is dealt next, the advantage is back to 0 ( 19 to 19 ). Now you have a running count. As long as play continues with the same deck you will add 1 for every 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 you see and subtract one for every 10 or A you see.

The next step is to adjust the running count so that you have a “real” count for the entire shoe. In a one deck game (which is rare), this is simple; but in a multi-deck game the advantage will be significantly different (though still an advantage). Compare our one deck example with a six deck game. Let’s assume in our one deck game you have seen 11 “10s” and 14 of the “other” cards. This gives you a running count of +3 ( 0 plus 14 minus 11 ). In a six deck game you will have the same running count but the advantage is not as great.

Looking at the actual number of cards we will see the difference. In our one deck example, there are 9 “10s” left and only 6 of the others. If there are six decks in the shoe, and the same number of cards have been dealt, you have 109 “10s” and 106 “other” cards. It is clear that a 9:6 advantage is much different than a 109:106 advantage.

The easiest way to adjust for multiple decks is to divide your running count by the number of decks. In our example, you would have an advantage of +3 if there were only one deck, but an ad-vantage of +0.5 if there were six decks. ALL OF YOUR BET ADJUSTMENTS NEED TO BE BASED ON THE “REAL” COUNT. If you have a real count of +0.5, you have an advantage. If you have any number less than +0.5, you do not have an advantage.

Now that you have counting down, we will discuss what to do with that knowledge. Let’s take a look at a simple bet adjustment strategy that can be mastered by anyone. Start with a base unit for your betting. Your bet on each hand should be calculated based on this base unit of betting as follows. Your “default” bet is 2 times the base unit. When your “real” count drops below 0, drop your bet to the base unit. When your “real” count is greater than or equal to one, you should increase your “default” bet by the amount equal to your base unit times the count.

Let’s look at an example. If you base unit is $5, play would go as follows. When the count is positive but less than one, you will bet $10 ( 2 times $5 ). When the count is below zero, you will bet $5 ( base unit ). When the count is +1, you will bet $15 ( $10 + $5 times count). If the count is +3, you will bet $25, etc.

Counting Cards

Many inexperienced players have a misconception about card counters as mathematical geniuses who can keep track of every card in a multiple decks of cards. While there may very well be people who can do this kind of thing, card counting is not about keeping track of every card. The idea behind counting cards is to keep track of the players statistical likelihood of winning a hand and then adjusting betting and playing accordingly.
The idea behind card counting is simple gambling strategy. Any professional gambler will tell you that the way to win at gambling is to bet more when you have the advantage and bet less (or not at all) when you do not. It is that simple. In black-jack, certain cards remaining in the deck are good for the player and certain ones are not. If you “count” these cards, you will always know when you have the advantage.
Edward O. Thorp’s work confirmed that 10’s and A’s remaining in the deck were good for the player, while 5’s and 6’s remaining in the deck were bad for the player. He worked out the circumstances under which particular combinations of cards remaining in the deck gave the player and advantage over the house. He also presented the first two card-counting systems, Thorp’s five-count and Thorp’s ten-count. The latter, which is more powerful, was based on determining the ration between 10’s and non-10’s remaining in the deck. Card counting was born from irrefutable logic: Keep track of the cards: make small bets when the deck favors the house and large bets when it favors the players.
Thorp’s analysis was later improved upon by the work of many others, notably Julian Braun, Lawrence Revere, Peter Griffin, Stanford Wong, Ken Uston, Arnold Snyder, and Lance Humble. Today the game is understood at a rather deep level, and sophisticated systems exist that give the knowledgeable player a distinct edge over the house.
Which Cards Matter?
The object of card counting is to keep track of cards that are advantageous to the player. The simple question is, then, “which cards matter?”
The card most beneficial to the player is the 10. 10’s are ad-vantages to the player for several reasons. One, they will cause the dealer to bust since he is required to take cards based on the rules of play. He may not take other factors into account while playing (like you do!). Two, they turn hands that you double down on into very strong hands (which is why you double down on those hands, by the way). Three, they are used to create blackjacks. Remember that blackjacks are more beneficial to the player since getting one pays 3 to 2 but losing to one only costs the original bet! Another important card for the player is the A. Aces present soft doubling (and hitting) opportunities and they create blackjacks. Remember – blackjack is more important to the player than the house!
The worst cards for the player are the 5 and the 6 (and 2, 3, and 4 to a lesser degree). The reason these are not good for the player is simple – they are beneficial to the house. Since the house is forced by the rules of play to take cards on any hand lower than 17, the 5 and the six present the possibility of very strong hands for the dealer (remember that 10’s are not advantageous to the dealer since they make “busts” of these hands).
Before we begin to learn how to count we should talk about how this will help us. You should remember that the purpose of counting is to know when the player has an advantage and when he does not. This knowledge will do nothing for you unless you do something with it. What you want to do is adjust your betting and your play based on your advantage.
Adjusting Your Bets
Adjusting your bets is very straightforward. When the composition of the deck is in your favor, you bet more. When it is not, you bet less. Very simple. Learning just this can give you as much as a 2% advantage against the house. If that advantage does not sound like much, keep in mind that many casino slot machines only produce a 2 – 3% advantage for the casino and that is enough to make billions of dollars of profit for the casino. Granted, this is at a much higher volume than you will play at but remember that bet sizes are much smaller.
Adjusting Your Play
Learning to adjust your play based on deck composition is not an easy task, but the rewards are phenomenal. Taking this step can increase your advantage by another 2% for a total of 4% against the house. The good news is that you can learn this with a lot of practice. The principles are simple but mastering this level of play takes many hours of practice.
An expert card counter will adjust play in many different ways depending on the composition of the deck. It is common for an expert card counter to do things that “break the rules” of basic strategy like:
1. Standing earlier if the deck is very 10 rich — if the dealer can bust, so can you!
2. Standing later if the deck is very 10 poor.
3. Splitting 10’s when the deck is extremely 10 rich.
4. Doubling down on A, 9 when the deck is extremely 10 rich.
Of course, the most important play adjustment can be deciding when to start playing at a table and when to stop.

Is Counting Cards Illegal?

In a word, no!

Many people think that casinos implement rules to try and deter card counters, but the truth is that the rules are usually implemented to deter cheating and many times these rules do put counters at a disadvantage. A simple example is the face down game. Casinos implemented the face down game to stop real cheaters but obviously a face up game would be better for a card counter.

That being said, casinos do not like card counters. You will learn as you get better at counting that some of the best bet-ting opportunities arise when you can join a game only after the deck is in your favor. Unfortunately, most casinos will resort to all sort of tactics to keep you from standing around a table and studying play at the table. Don’t ever walk up to a table and watch a game with a pen and notebook in hand, for example.